Sin and Prayer

I Samuel 15:9-11  Saul and the troops spared Agag, and the best of the sheep, cattle, and fatlings, as well as the young rams and the best of everything else. They were not willing to destroy them, but they did destroy all the worthless and unwanted things.  10 Then the word of the LORD came to Samuel:  11 “I regret that I made Saul king, for he has turned away from following Me and has not carried out My instructions.” So Samuel became angry and cried out to the LORD all night.

 

There is one thing in which we are all good at from the earliest age – disobedience. Our parents tell us to eat our peas, and we shove them across the table in disgust. We are told to be in bed by a specific time, and we always stretch it out for another 10 or 15 minutes. We get a car, notice the speed limit is 55, and we drive 78.

There is a lot of disobedience in this world. As adults, we just get better at covering up our disobedience. Israel’s first king, Saul, believed that he did a wonderful job covering up his disobedience in I Samuel 15. God had given Saul a simple yet difficult to fulfill command. Saul was ordered to completely wipe the Amalekite people from the face of the earth in punishment for their sins against Israel in the wilderness.

Saul obeyed to a point. He defeated the Amalekites in battle, but he saved the king and the best of the flocks. Saul assumed his disobedience could be overlooked since he set aside the flocks as gifts for the LORD, but the LORD desires gift of obedience over gifts of sacrifice.

How should you respond to the sins in your church, your family, your community, and your nation? How should you act once sin has entered into your church, no matter how reasonable that sin may appear? The LORD along with his prophet Samuel show us the way in I Samuel 15:9-11.

 

Respond to Sin with Regret

When sin creeps into the people of God, you should come before God with a spirit of regret. The same regret expressed by the LORD in vs. 11 show flow from your soul. Regret is not an intellectual response to sin, but regret is an emotional response. You regret the sins of yourself and others once you allow yourself to feel the painful consequences of disobedience.

When someone sins, open your heart to the disappointment of our Heavenly Father as His people turn from His Word. Feel the grief of those who will be weighed down by the sin of another. Don’t be callous to sin and its consequences, but allow yourself to feel the emotions you have been given by God.  The church will never be able to walk away from our besetting sins until we first allow ourselves to feel the brunt of the consequences of sin in our hearts.

Respond to Sin with Anger

At the end of vs. 11 Samuel show us another response to the sins of our community: “So Samuel became angry and cried out to the LORD all night.” The Hebrew word for anger has the idea of burning, being hot with anger. I think we can all remember a few times when we have been hot with anger.

How often do we burn with anger because someone has sinned against our holy, loving, and gracious God? We should be angry for God’s sake when His people sin against Him and flaunt or try to explain away their disobedience.

All grace should be extended to the repentant, but those who refuse to repent and are smug in sin, those should feel the burning, righteous anger of God toward their pride and selfishness.

How should you express this anger? You should not turn red with rage and blow up in the face of the sinner. Your anger should be poured out to God in prayer instead of spread through gossip and on blogs online. It is right to be angry over sin, but we should give that anger to the one who claims vengeance on iniquity.